LAKE FOREST, Ill. — The line between being perceived as a genius or not in the National Football League is too close for comfort for most coaches.
Matt Nagy might be finding that out since the end of his season opener against the Packers on Thursday.
Remember how the decision to rest the starters most of the preseason was lauded last season, when the Bears started off the season quickly, even in an opening loss to the Packers? We’ll that flipped when the offense was slow in the first game of the 2019 season.
Just 254 yards, three points, and a lot of sluggish play led to a defeat at the hands of Green Bay despite the fact the Aaron Rodgers’ offense scored just ten points.
Now the narrative from 2018 has been reversed. Maybe that preseason rest for the starters, which was more than it was last season in 2019, actually caused the rust on Thursday?
“When I go ahead and make that decision to not play in the preseason like we did, I open myself to criticism for when you don’t play well. I get that, so that’s a fair question,” said Nagy on Friday when fielding an inquiry on whether the preseason played a role in the bad start.
That fact will be debated now and for a while, considering the struggles of the unit in that opening game. Yet Nagy continued to dismiss the idea that the preseason rest caused the bad performance, saying that a few simple factors could have made the results different, not a few snaps in August.
“The first play of the game – the bobbled snap with 29 (Cohen) – if that has anything to do with him not playing in the preseason, then I’d be shocked,” said Nagy. “If we hang onto the ball, that might be down the sideline for 40 yards. It was blocked up like a gem.
“We didn’t. That’s just how it goes.”
Mitchell Trubisky was in lockstep with his coach in the belief that the lack of preseason snaps had anything to do with his or others in the offense on Thursday. He was 26-of-45 for 228 yards with an interception, as the Bears got inside the Packers’ red zone only once.
“So it just seemed a little scattered tonight with all our personnel and just trying to find a rhythm and trying to find our identity on offense, and we just put ourselves in bad situations and shot ourselves in the foot,” said Trubisky, denying the preseason rest contributed to the performance. “You could maybe attribute it to that, but I think it’s kind of a stretch. It’s just we were uncharacteristic of usually who we were tonight as an offense, and I think we just need to do our job.
“But we just couldn’t find a rhythm, and I don’t think it’s because we didn’t play in the preseason, because we were rolling in practice, and it just didn’t translate the week of practice we had to the game.”
Which has now helped make what was viewed as a smart move to rest players in August get lost in translation in September.